Submarine Cables in Africa

 

Africa is irrefutably one of the most important growth markets globally embracing digital transformation enabled by resurgent economic progress,

Among the 54 African countries recognized by United Nations, there are 38 countries that have seashore and 16 that are land locked. Out of these 38 countries that have seashore, 37 countries have at least one submarine cable landing. The lone exception is Eritrea, considering Western Sahara is considered disputed territory.

By the end of 2019, among the 37 countries that have at least one subsea cable landing, 11 countries have only 1 subsea cable, 10 countries have 2 subsea cables, 6 have 3 subsea cables, and 10 have more than 3.

The map below depicts a full and colorful picture about African Undersea Cables.

African Undersea CablesAfrican Undersea Cables, by Steve Song, Many Possibilities

 

 There are also excellent insights and summary on submarine cables business in Africa in the following articles:

African subsea cables
Submarine cables in Africa, by Suvesh ChattopadhyayaSubmarine Cables for Africa – A close look at 2019-21

 

Djibouti is a significant location for submarine cables running through the Asia, Africa and Europe corridor or connecting the East Africa.

Since the merger the Telecommunications Department of the Office of Posts and Telecommunications (OPT) and the International Telecommunication Company of Djibouti (STID) in 1999, Djibouti Telecom has become the incumbent and monopoly of national and international telecommunications throughout Djibouti. Djibouti Telecom is today a leading strategic center for international telecommunication services in East Africa with its underlying network infrastructure including international submarine cables and terrestrial cables (between Djibouti-Somali, and Djibouti-Ethiopia).

Djibouti Telecom has built two cable landing stations, the YAC A Cable Landing Station (YAC A CLS) and the Haramous Cable Landing Station (Haramous CLS).  There are now eight submairne cables and two terrestrial cables connecting Djibouti to the world.

Djibouti Telecom is building a new cable landing station in Djibouti City, expected to be completed by April 2022. There are 6 new cable systems to land in Djibouti in the coming years, including PEACE, 2Africa, Africa-1, SMW6, IEX and Google's Blue-Raman cable

Subsea cables landing at the YAC A CLS:

  • AAE1
  • ADEN-DJIBOUTI
  • SEACOM
  • SMW3
  • DARE1 

Subsea cables landing at the Haramous CLS:

  • EIG
  • EASSy
  • SMW5
  • DJIBOUTI-ETHIOPIA (terrestrial cable)
  • DJIBOUTI-SOMALIA (terrestrial cable)

Djibouti Data Center (DDC) also represents a key telecom infrastructure in Djibouti.

Launched commercial operations in 2013, the DDC is a carrier neutral data center in Djibouti. The DDC building is adjacent to the Haramous CLS, and connected by diverse dark fiber paths to the Haramous CLS and the YAC A CLS,  connecting all transoceanic and regional cable systems landing in Djibouti. Backhaul to any subsea cable head can be ordered directly from the DDC, although it is provided by Djibouti Telecom. 

 

Djibouti Cable Landing Stations

There are now 6 submarine cables landing in Kenya, including: 

Telkom Kenya owns a 23% stake in TEAMS, a 10% stake in LION2 and 2.6% stake in EASSy. 

The geographic position of Egypt allows for an efficient crossing from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea for submarine cable systems.

Telecom Egypt (TE) is Egypt’s only fixed network operator, owns and operates the TE Transit Corridor (or Trans-Egypt) infrastructure, which comprises the terrestrial infrastructure linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, over multiple diverse and redundant routes. Additional terrestrial routes over the Sinai Peninsula add to the unique resilience of the TE Transit Corridor and favourable submarine cable build economics by avoiding shallow waters.

Telecom Egypt is pursuing its plans to boost its international infrastructure by building new landing stations on the Mediterranean and Red seas that will be connected via new diverse terrestrial and subsea crossing routes. This has grabbed the attention of more and more global and international telecommunication players. Today, Telecom Egypt owns and operates 10 diversified terrestrial Trans-Egypt crossing routes which connect all landing stations on the Red and Mediterranean Seas. Telecom Egypt carefully selected the locations of the new landing station facilities, and accordingly built them with especially tailored specifications, and with further expansion plans in mind.There are now 10 submarine cable landing stations in Egypt, 5 on the coast of Mediterranean Sea and 5 on the coast of the Red Sea.

As of June 2022, there are now 15 in-service submarine cables connecting Egpyt (some with multiple subsystems), and another 5 cables under construction which include 2Africa/HARP/EMIC-1, Africa-1, IEX, Medusa and SMW6. And there are also Trans Border Terrestrial Cables to Libya, Sudan and Jordan.

 

Sidi Kerir CLS Abu Talat 1 CLS Abu Talat 2 CLS Alexandria CLS Port Said CLS
IEX (2023) AAE-1 MENA/GBI Aletar/Berytar FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA)
  EIG PEACE FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA) 2Africa / EMIC-1 (2023)
  SEA-ME-WE 5   Hawk Africa-1 (2023)
  TE North
/SEACOM/TGN-EA
/ALEXANDROS/Medex
  IMEWE HARP (2023)
      SEA-ME-WE 3 IEX (2023)
      SEA-ME-WE 4 SEA-ME-WE 6 (2025)
      IEX (2023) Medusa (2025)

 

Trans-Egypt Routes and Cable Landing Stations
Trans-Egypt Routes and Cable Landing Stations, Source: Telecom Egypt Interactive Map

 

Ras Ghareb CLS Zafarana 2 CLS Zafarana 1 CLS Suez CLS Hod elDars CLS
2Africa/EMIC-1(2023) MENA/GBI AAE-1 FALCON IMEWE
Africa-1 (2023) PEACE EIG FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA)  
HARP (2023) IEX (2023)  SEACOM SEA-ME-WE 3  
SEA-ME-WE 6 (2025)   TGN-EA SEA-ME-WE 4  
     SEA-ME-WE 5 2Africa(2023)  
     2Africa(2023)    

 

The Port Said CLS and the Ras Ghareb CLS are new cable landing stations which Telecom Egypt builds for 2Africa cable system and other new cables, to provide brand-new terrestrial crossing routes linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, the first in over a decade. Notablely, 2Africa will land at four Cable Landing Stations in Egypt that were selected precisely to assure physical and geographical diversity. On the Mediterranean side, 2Africa will be landing at the Port Said CLS, which is located 250 km east of the Alexandria CLS. On the Red Sea side, in addition to land at the new Ras Ghareb CLS which is located 100 km south of the Zafarana CLS, 2Africa will land at the Zafarana CLS and Suez CLS as well. The Ras Ghareb CLS and the Port Said CLS are connected with two new and diverse terrestrial routes with the deployment of next generation fibre, the routes will be in vicinity with the Suez Canal from Suez to Port Said, and will be complemented with a third new marine path linking Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations.  

In March 2021, Telecom Egypt and Suez Canal Authority, in coordination with the Armed Forces Signal Corps, signed an agreement to create the new Egypt crossing terrestrial cable route for fiber optic internet cables between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean through Al Morshedeen Road.

Fore more information, please refer to the Study Report on Submarine Cables Crossing Egypt and their Costs.

There are now WACS, SAT-3/WASC and SAFE landing on the West Coast of South Africa, SEACOM, EASSy, SAFE, and METISS landing on the East Coast of South Africa. Goolge's Equiano cable will land at Melkbosstrand CLS in a partnership with Telkom. 2Africa cable will land at MTN's Duynefontein CLS. 

There are three cable landing stations on the East Coast of South Africa:

  • Mtunzini CLS (Telkom) for SAFE (2002) and EASSy (2010).
  • Mtunzini CLS (Liquid Telecom) for SEACOM (2009).
  • Amanzimtoni CLS (Liquid Telecom) for METISS (2019) 

There are three cable landing station on the West Coast of South Africa:

  • Melkbosstrand CLS (Telkom) for SAT-3/WASC (2002) and SAFE (2002), Equiano (under construction)
  • Yzerfontein CLS (Telkom) for WACS (2011)
  • Duynefontein CLS (MTN) for ACE and 2Africa (under construction)

 

In Nigeria, there are now five international submarine cables, with over 40 Tbps of capacity, including SAT3 cable, MainOne cable, Glo1 cable, ACE cable and WACS cable, landed by Natcom, MainOne, Glo 1, Dolphin Telecom and MTN respectively. 

There is also a submarine cable connecting Kribi in Cameroon to Lagos in Nigeria, the Nigeria-Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS). The NCSCS is owned by Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL), in a partnership with MainOne to land the NCSCS cable at MainOne's Lagos Cable Landing Station.

Google's private cable Equiano will land in Nigeria. 

According to ASCON, Nigeria has used less than 10% of its five submarine cables capacity as of early 2019.

 

Association of Submarine Cable Operators of Nigeria (ASCON)

The Association of Submarine Cable Operators of Nigeria (ASCON) was inaugurated on 10th December 2018, aiming to create a national advocacy forum for Nigerian companies and administrations that own and/or operate submarine telecommunications cables landing in the country.

The Principal objective of the ASCON is to:

  • Create a national advocacy forum for Nigerian companies and administrations that own and/or operate submarine telecommunications cables landing in the country.
  • ASCON has been established to promote, encourage and assist in the protection of subsea cable infrastructure and ancillary equipment and facilities from marine activities, man-made and natural hazards.
  • The association shall support and manage governmental and public/private sector collaboration, to ensure that the operations and maintenance of critical subsea communications assets are adequately protected and recognized in the development of rules and policies in Nigeria

Members, Board of Trustees of ASCON include

  1. Funke Opeke (MD/CEO, MainOne;
  2. Uche Osuji (MTN Nigeria, GM, Network Performance & Quality Assurance) and
  3. Abdelraham Bashar (Deputy MD, ACE/Dolphine)
  4. Innocent Nwokwocha – (nTel)

The Executive Council of ASCON is made up of:     

  • Ifeloju Alakija- President (MainOne)
  • Maxwell Eze – Vice President (MTN)
  • Bolaji Mudashiru – General Secretary (ACE/Dolphin Telecom)
  • Prosper Iredia Ogbagha – Publicity Secretary (Natcom SAT-3)